Mitsotakis Challenges Thanou to Head Greece’s Competition Commission

Vassiliki Thanou. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, FILE)

ATHENS – Major opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis wants the European Union to intervene in the nomination of former Greek Supreme Court chief Vassiliki Thanou to be the director of the country’s Competition Commission.

Mitsotakis wrote to European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager and Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici to complain that Thanou’s nomination is political because she now is the head of Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras’ legal office.

Mitsotakis said that would conflict with the job of running an independent authority although Tsipras earlier replaced the head of Parliament’s supposed independent budget office with a party loyalist.

Mitsotakis also said the government, which includes the junior partner tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos of “attempting to turn the Competition Commission into a de facto instrument” serving its partisan interests and trying to eliminate independent bodies.

In February this year, Thanou was blasted by former colleagues in the union of judges and prosecutors (EDE), who described her stepping into an alleged scandal over the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis as an “institutional faux pas.”

Tsipras and SYRIZA charged that 10 rival politicians took bribes from the company, based on the secret testimony of three unnamed whistleblowers who still haven’t provided a shred of evidence.

That came after Thanou questioned the legality of convening the appeals court plenary so that the Novartis case file  could go to an investigative magistrate.

It is not our business to throw politicians a lifeline,” Nikolaos Salatas, General Secretary of EDE, told Thema 104.6 radio, accusing Thanou of double standards over the case as she had tried to raise judges’ retirement age while she was still Supreme Court chief.

Speaking to Real FM, EDE representative Haralambos Sevastidis described the Novartis case, in which 10 Greek politicians are being investigated over allegations of bribery in connection with the Swiss drugmaker, as an “arena of political confrontation.”

“(The case) is being exploited for political reasons and at the same time there is interference from judicial officials to back the claims of this or the other side,” Kathimerini reported at the time.